'80s Nostalgia Goes on Tour

Summer's almost here and the time is right for … catching your favorite musician on the road.

With the continuing uncertainty in the music business brought upon by illegal file-sharing and sales declines, recording artists are focusing their efforts on the one revenue source they can count on — touring.

Even though the record business is in trouble, the business of music is experiencing an explosive growth, thanks in part to the concert business. Concert ticket sales revenues in North America have been on the upswing for the past four years, with 2003 revenues jumping 20 percent to $2.5 billion, according to industry watchers, and there are signs that 2004 could be an even bigger year.

Last year, veteran rockers and country acts were the "hot tickets." Figures from Billboard and Pollstar show the Rolling Stones grossed $299,520,230 from 113 shows, Bruce Springsteen's tour netted $221 million from 121 shows, and the Dixie Chicks set a record for first-day sales with 790,000 tickets sold on March 1, 2003.

The list of acts hitting the road this summer is extensive and it includes artists as diverse as Fleetwood Mac, Dave Matthews, Rush, Jessica Simpson, Bette Midler, Jimmy Buffett, No Doubt/Blink-182 and Linkin Park. Perennial favorites Lollapalooza, Ozzy Osbourne's Ozzfest and the Warped Tour promise to give the fans a real "bang for the buck" with strong artist lineups.

Undoubtedly, the hottest tickets are for those 1980s favorites who are now hitting the tour circuit to reassert their importance in the pantheon of pop culture.

Call it nostalgia for the decade of excess, or a yearning for a time when MTV's programming consisted of nonstop videos by artists such as Haircut 100, Adam Ant, Duran Duran and a young lass from Detroit who desired to "conquer the world."

Fast-forward 20 years and Madonna — the Material Girl-turned-mom — is embarking on what will certainly become the year's top-grossing tour, while fellow '80s mega-superstar Prince has rewritten the book on what constitutes the perfect comeback with his critically acclaimed, sold-out U.S. tour.

Yes, 2004 is already being dubbed the "Totally '80s — The Retro's So Bright I Have to Wear Shades" year. Are you surprised? Didn't you see the signs? VH1 scoring huge ratings with its I Love the '80s series, a Broadway musical based on Boy George's life, and Jennifer Lopez channeling Jennifer Beals' Flashdance splash in a video — all were dead giveaways that we are headed back to the future.

If you came of age during the awesome '80s or merely wish to experience an era when greed was good, you're in luck this summer.

Madonna's "Reinvention" tour kicked off May 24 in Los Angeles and will run through Aug. 2 before she heads on to Europe. The tour will focus on her classic material with the set list consisting of her older repertoire — something that the fans were left craving for during 2001's "Drowned World Tour."

With top-tier tickets priced at $300, the "Reinvention" tour will easily surpass the $74 million that her last tour grossed. Meanwhile, Prince's "Musicology" tour is the "must-see" concert with everyone from the critics to the fans hailing it as a true religious experience.

If you long to hear "Purple Rain" live and in the round, His Purple Majesty will be crisscrossing the United States through September. As an added bonus, all ticket holders receive a copy of his new CD Musicology as a take-home souvenir.

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